Friday, January 29, 2010

Berklee School of Music

So, I stumbled upon the Berklee College of Music. Why couldn't I run into Esperanza?

Anyway, I went to the bookstore next door and was floored.

A Ben Monder composition book?

The Kurt Rosenwinkel composition book?

Unreal. I'll be woodshedding big time when I get home to my guitar.

I am going to email Ben (who appeared at CSUB in 2005) when I learn one song - maybe Sleep - which seems to be able to be played by mere mortals.

This guy is crazy good and there isn't a more original sounding guitarist alive in my opinion. His concert at CSUB is up on YouTube. The sound isn't great, but it's some of the only Monder available and it is amazing.

Here was the spread of Fake Books. Too cool:

Yeah, we all need to move here. Now.

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So, on Wednesday I got up and cruised over to Fenway Park. Realize, this is no small thing for this Angel fan. The Red Sox almost killed me as a 14 year old. They returned from the dead to beat Gene Autry's Angels in the ALCS. That beat down lingered until 2002 and some would say until the Angels beat the Sox in 2009 to advance to the ALCS.

I respect the Sox, but can't stand some of their players and the attitude of a lot of Red Sox fans in So Cal. Anyway, everyone here in Boston was cool, even inviting. I went to the Merchandise store across Yawkey Way and an old-timer working there quipped, "we all have our problems" when I told him I was an Angel fan.

Anyway, here is a pic I saw as I exited the Green Line to locate Fenway:

I hate Jonathan Papelbon. All the better that the Halos unclothed him in the ALCS this year.

But, seeing the stadium was cool. I didn't pay the money for an indoor tour. I might still tomorrow.

Cool stuff.

And this was cool if a bit weird:

The retired numbers - with 42 for Jackie Robinson in a different color. A dark color. Friggin' Bostonians.

Still cool to see the park.

Oh yeah, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how filthy it was on Yawkey Way.

This is directly across from the front gate into Fenway:

Stay classy Boston.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Music Theory Homework

So, music theory students of the world (well, OK, CSUB) here is your first theory assignment. It is due on Monday when I return:

Compose two phrases in 4/4 time in the key of C minor.

The first phrase must conclude with a phrygian half cadence, the second with a perfect authentic cadence.

After bass notes and roman numerals, add a melody that moves you musically - be sure to include NCT's to richen sound.

Then add inner voices and be sure that you have not committed any sins of spacing, doubling, parallelism and the like.

Post any questions you have on this blog - others will benefit.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Here is the view from my window seat on United Airlines flight 162:

I have loved flying since I was a child - the view of the terrain and bodies of water and what look like crop circles are a big part of that. But, that is not all. Ther are other things - more fleeting and less palpable - that endear me to flight.

I haven't a clue what all of them are, but I know them when I encounter them. It could be the gentle rumble of turbulence or the anticipation of take-off, but those are easy to spot. It could also be the amazing nature of it all. A massive machine of metal filled with people and things leaping through the air only to land 3000 miles away. It's just stunning.

Anyway, as a musician I am, of course, traveling with 60 GB's of audio. For a five day trip. Yeah, overkill. Anyway, I brought with me a massive cross-section of music. On the drive the LAX I listened to Duncan Sheik, and a mix of other rock/pop music. I was terribly tired and that drive at 4:30 AM was painful.

Then when I arrived at the terminal, after the dance with the ticket counter and security, I opened up a book that I have been neglecting for 18 months now - The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross. I am about 100 pages into the book that chronicles 20th century music in a way only Ross can, and I decided to listen to the pieces he was discussing as I read.

Six Orchestral Pieces by Webern, various Bartok, and others. It is stunning music and so well constructed that I can discern structure as it comes. It is pristine in that way. The composers between 1880 and 1930 really looked inward AND outward to find what their heart drove them towards. That single focusedness is to be commended. That bravery to leap off the deep end and create new sounds is astonishing.

So my question to my Theory students at CSUB - who are required to read this blog while I travel to Boston for the premier of my new piece - Duplicitous Encpunter - is this:

What music stirs your soul and why? What do you respond to musically?

As you answer these questions, listen to a favorite song this evening for homework and listen to the harmonies and describe them as well as you can. Tell me the name of the song and the artist/composer so that I might go to YouTube to hear myself.

Be sure that you post something before 12 midnight on Wednesday (CA time)

Gonna go back to listening...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bed time posts...

So, I am a bad blogger. I don't do it enough and what I do write isn't ground breaking.

Shit, it isn't interesting.

So, I'm going to try to be better -so I will use the countless hours I spend at bedtime in the room of my 4 3/4 year old triplet boys to keep a better blog on the Internets.


Winter break has been a revelation. I have been busier than 10 dogs in a butcher's shop. In addition to the normal holiday stuff, I completed a 7 minute duet for flute and cello (Duplicitous Encounter) and finalized two movements of a Sonata for Solo Guitar. I still need a damn name for that one!

These pieces are - by far - my favorite pieces I have written. They are complex (or at least not simplistic) and beautiful - a duality I strive to attain.

Both works will be premiered in the next eight weeks. In late January I head to Boston to hear the duet at a venue called the Lilypad. The players playing the piece - Rachel Arnold and Ashley Addington - are great and terribly musical. They will do a wonderful job and I really look forward to hearing them play the piece.

The sonata starts getting rolled out on January 15 in New Jersey by Dr. Keith Calmes - a friend and Julliard trained guitarist. He will then travel to California to premier whole work for the first time on February 21 at CSU Bakersfield.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I also built a HUGE play yard/swing set for my boys over break.

Here is a pic:

Yeah, that was intense. About seven days - two of which were eight hour days - were used up to build that bad boy. It was fun though, and I enjoyed the change of pace. There is a peace that I can fall into when doing that kind of work, listening to my iPod (lots of Duncan Shiek, RENT, David Tanenbaum playing Brouwer or Maxwell-Davies) and just doing what the directions say. Being creative is a tiring activity. Sometimes it is nice to just do something that requires discipline but not much creative energy.


Lastly, I'd like to thank my wife for making this composing possible. There were a few days where she bit the bullet and dealt with the trio all by herself so I'd have an uninterrupted chunk of time to work. That was awesome and the only way I've been so productive this year. I wrote a lot of music this year and she helped every step of the way by hanging with the crazies we call children.

Thanks Jenn!

Gotta run!